How High

| January 2, 2002

Following in the line of such renowned weed films as Up in Smoke, Friday and Half-Baked comes one of 2001’s best movies in the Jesse Dylan directed How High. Or at least you would hope it would be one of the year’s best films considering it was directed by the son of artistic genius Bob Dylan, but apparently Bob’s genes haven’t filtered down to the next generation. Pot films in general have never received much critical acclaim and this one is no exception. How High is indeed high on hos, immature jokes, hos, white man jokes and hos, but reaches a new low on just about everything that makes a good movie.
Before I continue with my panning of this completely inept film, I feel that it is only right for me to comment on the racial barrier that existed within the audience during the film. I viewed How High during a special advance screening at my college. While my college is close to 90% white, the audience that showed up to view the film was about 75% black and only 25% white. The only reason I am bringing up the color line is because of the huge disparity in audience reaction from one race to next. Every single time a joke was told that made fun of white people during this black exploitation film, the vast majority of the darker skinned crowd roared with laughter while most of the lighter skinned folks simply groaned and rolled their eyes. Audience reaction after the movie was over was also divided between black and white. Every white person that I talked to after the show thought that it was one of the worst films they had ever seen, while most of the black people I talked to thought it was “pretty tight,” to quote one of them.
So please read the rest of this review with a disclaimer in mind. I absolutely hated this movie, but then again, I’m white. Perhaps if I was black I would have perceived the movie differently.
How High stars popular rappers Method Man and Redman as a couple of ghetto potheads named Silas and Jamal who somehow get into Harvard. They manage this feat by acing their college entrance exam cleverly called the “Test for Higher Credentials” (THC, get it?). The Cheech & Chongesque duo are able to ace the test after smoking the ashes of their recently departed friend Ivory (Chuck Davis). Ivory died by accidentally setting himself on fire, falling out of a window in mid-blaze, and then surviving, only to get hit by a bus as he stands up. This is worth mentioning here simply because it is the only scene that struck me as funny during the whole movie. Smoking Ivory’s ashes enables Silas and Jamal to summon the ghost of their recently deceased friend, who then helps them ace the test.
Once at Harvard, the two tokers quickly turn the esteemed Ivy League school into the world’s biggest frat house. Along the way, they do battle with Bart (Chris Elwood), a wealthy white student who serves as the stereotypical jock and Dean Cain (Obba Babatunde), a campus administrator who is blatantly made out to be an Uncle Tom stereotype as he tries to put an end to the pair’s campus hijinks.
There are of course more subplots to the movie than just these, such as the man who starts fights with people by slapping them in the face with baby powder. And lets not forget Jamal’s budding romance with the daughter of the U.S. Vice President, who just happens to be black. I will not be providing commentary on any of these scenes however, as I feel I have already given this movie more inches of space in this review then it really deserves.
Like I said earlier, if you’re the type of person that’s down with black humor at the white man’s expense, then I implore you to go see this movie. Otherwise, I’d just stay home and get stoned.

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